As we near the end of 2018, it’s the perfect time to look back on what we’ve experienced so far this year in customer success. Customer success is an ever-changing role and we’ve seen incredible advancements this year in technology, ideas, and processes to help us all elevate customer success. For many customer success teams, however, the rapid growth of the industry (especially in the SaaS world) has left heads spinning. To help you sort through the noise and focus your strategy, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top trends from 2018 that your team should get a jump on.
Here are 6 customer success trends that have been huge in 2018:
1. Building a Company Culture of Customer Success
In recent years, many organizations have started to realize the importance of a strong customer success team, not just to keep clients happy but to the success of the entire organization. Instead of simply passing new customers off to a Customer Success Manager (CSM) to deal with after a sale is completed, organizations are realizing the benefits of having a strong customer-focused strategy in every department, from sales and marketing to finance and product. When customers come first across the entire organization, the overall way team members think about the solutions offered, the messaging used, and the processes in place are sure to change and evolve.
2. Establishing Strong, Company-Wide Relationships Early on in a Vendor Partnership
For today’s SaaS customer relationships, it’s not enough just to work directly with the project manager or end users on your customer’s team. Pull in other representatives from your customer organizations, from executives to department heads to other project managers, to establish company-wide relationships. This will ensure that if (or when) there are issues, upsell conversations, or any signs of confusion down the road that you can bring in other voices into the conversation.
3. Streamlining and Focusing Collaboration and Communication Efforts
Whether your internal team is remote, or you’re dealing with customers spread out across the globe, the SaaS world is growing – literally. There’s no longer a guarantee that everyone will be onsite or in an office, and your strategic collaboration and communication efforts should reflect this change. Instead of hosting onsite training and in-person activations, become familiar with web conferencing software and platforms. CSMs should plan for (and expect) the unexpected, and not let things like technical difficulties or internet connectivity impact any customer-facing efforts. Talk with customers about the solutions and technologies your team uses before you schedule any online meetings to ensure compatibility and connectivity down the road.
4. Gathering Critical Data and Metrics for Better Decision Making
For customer success teams to truly make an impact in today’s industry environment, there must be some sort of data-backed process. This makes having real-time visibility into customer metrics (MRR, ARR, retention trends, etc.) a necessity. This insight helps customer success teams know who to connect with – and how to connect with them – to proactively serve and retain customer accounts. With a clear picture of customer account health and status, your team can make better decisions, stay on top of customer issues, and eliminate any last-minute surprises. Your team will be more in sync and efficient, ensuring that customers are the ones who will reap the benefits.
5. Leveraging Cloud-Based Technology to Increase Customer Satisfaction and Outcomes
As the growth of SaaS companies has increased in the past few years, so have the advancements in cloud-based technology for the customer success industry. Gone are the days of phone calls, mailed paper NPS surveys, customer spreadsheets, and post-it notes. Today, CSMs have access to cloud-based, industry-specific technology that provides a one-stop-shop for all things customer-focused. Specific customer account data is readily available, without any hunting through files, ensuring team members are always prepared for whatever a meeting throws at them. Customer success managers can also compile up-to-date reports for executives to highlight the successes and achievements of their team members.
6. An Intense Focus on Outcomes and ROI
Finally, the last trend we’ve seen emerge in 2018 is a sharpened focus on customer outcomes and return on investment for customers. This trend doesn’t just apply to product or feature adoption and ensuring customers get the most value out of the platform or service that they’ve purchased, but true impact in outcomes across the organization and overall ROI. Too often, CSMs only focus only on adoption or satisfied customers who give glowing reviews (or in the case of customer success teams, glowing NPS scores). While those factors are certainly important, this new trend is directly tied to helping customers achieve measurable outcomes that drive ROI and positive change across the customer’s internal organization.
If your team is looking to ramp up operations at the 2018 and take the rest of the year by storm, having the right solutions in place can help get you there. 2018 has been all about leveraging technology and practical solutions to increase company’s focus on their customers. If this trend holds out, 2019 is sure to be even more game-changing for the customer success industry.